Saturday, July 19, 2008

Certain Girls, Jennifer Weiner

Title: Certain Girls
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Published: 2008, Atria
Category: General Fiction
Rating: 7/10

Look! I'm blogging! Yay! How is everyone? I've missed you all. :)

This book is the sequel to Weiner's first book, Good in Bed. It's been a while since I read that book, but as I recall we saw our heroine, Cannie, a smart, funny, plus-size woman, deal with being dumped by her pothead boyfriend and finding out she's pregnant by him (as he runs away to Amsterdam). After much anguish, she finds happiness in her new daughter, Joy, and husband, Peter.

Certain Girls takes place when Joy is 13, a very precocious 13. Half the book is told from her perspective and half from Cannie's. Joy is dealing with normal teenage things: wanting to be a "cool" kid, getting away from the smothering attentions of a very involved mother. Her situation is complicated by the fact that Cannie wrote a semi-autobiographical novel about herself, in which she explains that Joy was an accident--this makes insecure Joy feel even worse about herself and very angry with her mother.

Cannie, while dealing with her out-of-control daughter, is also dealing with the fact that her husband wants them to have another child. Since Joy's birth was difficult, she cannot bear more children herself, so they are left looking for a surrogate mother.

I did enjoy this book--even though it's a sort of combination of ChickLit and MomLit, both of which I generally dislike. The self-absorption of ChickLit usually turns me off, and I'm just not able to relate that well to MomLit, not being a mother myself. But Weiner does have a great sense of humor and as always there were some very funny moments. Once when Cannie and Joy are shopping for dresses, Joy tells her mother that one dress "looks like God ate Mexican food, then threw up on you."

She also comes up with some real truisms, which while maybe a little cynical are probably quite realistic. My two favorites are: "It isn't politically correct to say so, but in the real world, good looks function as a get-out-of-everything-free card." and "This is motherhood for you ... going through life with your heart outside your body."

The way Joy treats her mom definitely took me back to my teen years, though I don't think I was ever as cruel to my mom as Joy is to hers. At least I hope not. It made me want to call and apologize for all my bratty years. :) Any moms out there with teenage girls will definitely relate to this book. And probably thank heavens their lives aren't as complicated.